The Morning Mix

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Monday provided very little action on the hardwood. But the news cycle kept on spinning, as two mid-majors are joining the conference realignment fray. Get ready for a full night of hoops with The Morning Mix.

Let’s hit the links.

 

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ Old Dominion (NBC Sports Network)
7:00 p.m. – Kent State @ Bucknell
7:00 p.m. – Georgia @ Georgia Tech
7:00 p.m. – Oklahoma @ Arkansas
7:00 p.m. – Texas vs. No. 15 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Western Carolina @ No. 13 Illinois
8:00 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State @ No. 12 Missouri
8:00 p.m. – South Dakota State @ No. 14 Minnesota
8:00 p.m. – Wyoming @ Illinois State
8:30 p.m. – Western Michigan @ No. 3 Michigan
9:00 p.m. – Siena @ St. Bonaventure (NBC Sports Network)
9:00 p.m. – No. 25 North Carolina State vs. Connecticut
9:00 p.m. – No. 5 Louisville @ Charleston
9:00 p.m. – Northwestern @ Baylor
9:30 p.m. – Southern Mississippi @ No. 8 Arizona
10:00 p.m. – St. John’s @ San Francisco
10:00 p.m. – Nevada @ Pacific
11:00 p.m. – No. 22 UNLV @ Portland

 

Picture of the Day:
I guess this is an accurate depiction of a “Three-headed monster”. (From @LemurFemur)

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/A9P5Tv7CIAAZhCH.jpg:large

 

Read of the Day:
Statistician extraordinaire Dan Hanner drops some stellar knowledge on how the top-80 recruits have fared thus far this season. Make sure you read this. Hanner is always “must-read” material (RealGM.com)

Read of the Day:
Grantland provides an excellent piece on the tradition that Tom Crean is restoring at Indiana. Read it. (Grantland)

 

Top Stories:
Patience needed for South Carolina fans: NBC Sports College Basketball Insider Vin Parise explains why patience will be needed for Gamecock fans, and provides some insight on players he’s watching out for.

Mark Lyons has 12 assists this year and 15 turnovers, is he Arizona answer at the point? The Wildcats sit at -0 and are ranked inside this top ten. They have a young and talented front court, but seem to be lacking an identity in the back court. The Xavier-transfer has struggled to distribute the ball. But maybe distribution by committee will work best for the Wildcats.

Handicapping the national scoring leader race: We may only be one month into the season, but five players have emerged and will likely battle it out to be the nation’s top scorer this season. You’ve heard of C.J. McCollum, Isaiah Canaan, and Doug McDermott, but there are two sleepers to keep an eye on.

Late Night Snacks from Monday night: There was not a lot of action of the college hardwood last night. One 14 games were played. Of those 14, only nine featured Division I vs. Division I match-ups.

Jim Calhoun had cancer removal surgery in May: The former-UConn head coach revealed on Monday that he had surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his lungs during the off-season. His explanation can only be summed up as “Calhoun-like”

 

Hoops Housekeeping
– Highly touted class of 2014 big-man Karl Towns, who played for the Dominican National Team this summer, is schedule to make his college choice today, and is likely to choose Kentucky (Courier Journal)

– Former-Pittsburgh guard John Johnson has decided to transfer to Penn State (Victory Bell Rings)

– Clemson guard T.J. Sapp has announced his intentions to transfer from the Tigers program (Shakin’ The Southland)

– Providence guard Bryce Cotton is doubtful for the Friars game against Rhode Island, while freshman Kris Dunn is unlikely to make his season debut (Friar Blog)

– Massachusetts center Cady Lalanne has been indefinitely suspended after weekend arrest at on-campus function (MassLive.com)

 

Observations & Insight:
– The non-football Big east schools would be thrilled if the bleeding stops soon (SNY.tv)

– Utah will honor the life of former head coach Rick Majerus by hanging his legendary white sweater in the rafters (ESPN)

– Thanks to a loaded field and a successful turnout, the Battle 4 Atlantis wants to remain the top preseason tournament in the country (Sports Illustrated)

– The NEC is getting raided by the MAAC, as Monmouth and Quinnipiac are set to make a move. Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the decision (Run the Floor)

– An excellent profile piece on the development of O.D. Anosike, both on and off the court (Albany Times-Union)

– Eamonn Brennan tells us who he would choose if he had to select one basketball player to stay all four years (ESPN)

– John Gasaway breaks down three unranked and under-appreciated teams that we shouldn’t forget about (ESPN Insider)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Ford debate about the most talented teams in the nation (ESPN Insider)

– Jeff Eisenberg drops a solid list of the teams that have most exceeded expectations so far this season (The Dagger)

– The Memphis Tigers are a work in process. The energy and effort provided by freshman Shaq Goodwin is sure to pay off in the long run (Memphis Commercial-Appeal)

– Syracuse whipped Eastern Michigan last night. Jim Boeheim believes the early progress of Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman are crucial to Syracuse’s chances this season (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– After an anemic showing against Tennessee, the Georgetown Hoyas look to rise above against Texas tonight in Manhattan (Washington Post)

– Is this really a question? I thought it was common knowledge that Florida forward Patric Young is grossly underutilized (Rush The Court)

– Will the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State provide a battle against their Golden Gopher foes from across the border? (From The Barn)

 

Odds & Ends
– Kirk Hanson has won more than 700 games as head coach at Central Bible College (NCCAA), but because of a merger with Evangel University, the three-time National Championship-winning coach will be out of a job (CSN Northwest)

– The LaSalle Explorers will wear slick throwback uniforms against Penn Stat in honor of their 1968-1969 squad that finished 23-1 (Philahoops.com)

– St. John’s will face San Francisco tonight on the west coast. The Johnnies spent some of their free time in San Francisco helping out at a local food bank (Johnny Jungle)

– A look at the total expenses of A-10 basketball programs from last season (Duquesne Sports Blog)

 

Dunk of the Day:
I agree with the description. This angle doesn’t do the dunk proper justice.

 

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.